Kirk among senators introducing VA patient protection bill
U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) joined a bipartisan group of fellow senators in introducing a bill on Wednesday to strengthen the supervision of patient care at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals.
The VA Patient Protection Act would build on provisions in the recently passed VA spending bill, also authored by Kirk, that protect VA employees who report abuses or dysfunction. It would also institute a 12-day suspension for supervisors who are caught punishing or intimidating whistleblowing employees. Supervisors would lose their jobs over a second offense.
The bill would also tie supervisor's performance ratings to the person's handling of complaints and permit whistleblowers to go to the next supervisor up if their supervisor fails to respond to their complaint.
“This bill protects our veterans by protecting those who care for them,” Kirk said. “By giving whistleblowers like Germaine Clarno and Dr. Lisa Nee a voice, we can end the VA’s culture of corruption and make sure our veterans are never again treated like second-class citizens.”
Clarno is a social worker at the Hines VA Medical Center in Illinois and Nee is a former cardiologist there. Both were intimidated and threatened after they observed and reported various types of misconduct including a massive backlog of unexamined echocardiogram tests and unnecessary surgeries.
Joining Kirk were Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).
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